I was talking on the phone to one of my nearest and dearest friends Nichole Shellman. She got a call from a co-worker of hers who told her "ED BRADLEY just died". In shock, Nichole came back to me on the other line and shared the news. I was stunned - in part because I didn't know Ed Bradley was suffering with leukemia and I just saw him the other week. I was in Downtown Manhattan's The Village going into fabulous restaurant Blue Ribbon Bakery on Downing. He had apparently just dined with some friends and was on the street corner (just across from what used to be Bar-Do). And through the window, I waved at him. He knowingly waved back as we had several opportunities over my career to acquaint. The most recent time was the most memorable and the memory I will hold most closely. Along with my colleague Michael K. Watts, I had the opportunity to co-produce the National Association of Black Journalists' Salute to Excellence Awards in Washington D.C. He not only was honored, but he enjoyed the night. R&B great Angela Bofill performed (just before suffering her stroke) and I have a wonderful snapshot in my mind of Mr. Ed Bradley holding onto her every word as she performed a short set of her quiet-storm hits. I was responsible for scripting his tribute, which was presented by "Our World"s Ed Gordon. It read as follows:
THIS FALL, ONE OF OUR OWN MADE TELEVISION HISTORY.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS 25 YEARS OF STELLAR BROADCASTING, ED BRADLEY IS THE FIRST FACE SEEN AFTER THE TICKING STOPWATCH ON CBS NEWS' "60 MINUTES."
BUT TO NABJ, HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE 'FIRST FACE.'
THE PIONEERING JOURNALIST’S 19 EMMYS ARE TESTAMENT TO HIS ABILITY TO TELL A GREAT STORY. AND FOR 25 SEASONS, WE’VE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO THOSE SUNDAY NIGHT MASTERPIECES.
INDEED, ED BRADLEY IS A MASTER STORYTELLER.
WHILE TELEVISION MADE HIM A HOUSEHOLD NAME, RADIO WAS HIS FIRST MEDIUM OF CHOICE BACK IN THE EARLY '60S.
BUT A LEAP FROM PHILADELPHIA TO NEW YORK CITY WOULD LAND HIM AT CBS AND ON TV... AND SINCE THEN, BROADCAST NEWS HASN'T BEEN THE SAME.
ED HAS PUT HIMSELF IN HARM'S WAY TO COVER THE FRONTLINE OF THE WORLD'S WAR ZONES.
HE REPORTED FROM CBS’ SAIGON BUREAU IN 1972.
AND JUST AFTER THAT, HIS WORK WITH CAMBODIAN REFUGEES GAVE AMERICA AN UP-CLOSE AND OFTEN GRAPHIC LOOK AT THAT CRISIS.
HE WAS LATER ASSIGNED TO THE CBS NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU, PLACING HIMSELF FRONT AND CENTER AT THE WHITE HOUSE.
BUT IT WOULD BE "60 MINUTES" THAT PROVED TO BE ED BRADLEY'S FINEST HOUR.
FROM NUCLEAR BOMBS TO TIMOTHY MCVEIGH.
FROM MUHAMMAD ALI TO BOB DYLAN.
ED BRADLEY HAS TALKED TO THEM ALL.
BUT IT WAS NOT A CONVERSATION WITH A WORLD LEADER THAT PROVED TO BE ED’S FAVORITE… IT WAS WITH THE WOMAN WHO MADE STORMY WEATHER SUNNY, LENA HORNE!
ED BRADLEY IS HERE TO BE HONORED FOR HIS LIFETIME OF WORK. AND PART OF THAT GREATNESS IS HIS LONGEVITY. ALONG WITH THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, ED WILL TAKE HOME TWO ‘SALUTE TO EXCELLENCE AWARDS’ TONIGHT.
HE AND HIS "60 MINUTES" TEAM WON THE FEATURES-LONG FORM CATEGORY FOR THEIR STORY ON "RAY CHARLES"...
AND ALSO IN THE ENTERPRISE CATEGORY FOR THEIR EXPOSE ON "THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL."
ED BRADLEY IS STILL PROVING THAT JOURNALISM MATTERS BY TELLING STORIES… GREAT STORIES… OUR STORIES.
FOR THESE REASONS, NABJ IS PROUD TO PRESENT THE 2005 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO ED BRADLEY.
It was a huge honor to serve NABJ and ED BRADLEY in this way. And knowing that ED BRADLEY was a pop culture guy like me (via his love of "jazz" and all things "classic") makes me smile at his take on his critically- acclaimed Lena Horne interview. He once said: “If I arrived at the pearly gates and St. Peter said, ‘What did you do to deserve entry?’ I’d just say, ‘Did you see my Lena Horne story?’”
Then, just a day later, before I could even wrap my brain around the loss of Ed Bradley, I'm being driven to Philadelphia. Actually, I was already in Philadelphia and five-minutes-away from the home of Patti Labelle, who I was scheduled to interview. And my crew called to give me a heads up that she might not be in the mood because she just found out that a good friend of hers died. I'd find out very soon that it was Gerald Levert and that - at 40 - he had a heart attack. Miss Labelle and Mr. Levert have performed together many times and his father Eddie Levert of legendary O'Jays fame is her contemporary. And she celebrated Gerald during our talk and went so far as to pull out her new gospel CD, "The Gospel According to Patti Labelle", sign it for me and then she played it for me. When Track #4 came on, I told her she should dedicate that one to him. She said she would. It's a favorite gospel tune of mine called "Walk Around Heaven" that I remember from hearing my dad's old "Mighty Clouds of Joy" albums. Patti's version is wonderful and will lift Gerald up... and comfortably hold his family... during this major loss for R&B music.
-------------------And since they say it happens in THREEs, I should also briefly mention that Jack Palance died. One report reads: Oscar winning-American movie star Jack Palance died at 87. Palance’s family spokesman Dick Guttman announced that the famous star died in his house in Montecito, California.
Palance, who is known for his portrayal of strict characters, became a celebrity name after he starred as a supporting actor in “Sudden Fear” and as a gunslinger in “Shane” in 1953, a classic Western movie.
Palance was born in Pennsylvania in 1919 as Vladimir Palahnuik. He fought in World War II, was wounded in combat, and received the Purple Heart and the World War II victory medal.
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Response: Brian PoeA Day In "The Life Of Riley" - Blog - THREEs: ED BRADLEY... GERALD LEVERT... JACK PALANCE